Year 1: What to Know About Your Baby’s Nutrition
June 21, 2023
Caring for an infant can be summed up as sleep, change, and feed. Since feeding is a top 3 task, let’s discuss what you should know about feeding your newborn infant
Co-author: YeaJin Kim
One of the first bonding experiences between Mom and Baby is feeding. It is emotionally rewarding but can be overwhelming. Your child relies on you throughout their childhood to feed them properly and in pace with their growth and development.
Throughout the first year of life your baby will be rapidly growing and changing. An infant should double their birth weight by the time they reach 4 to 6 months of age, and triple it by 1 year. And with this rapid growth, their diet and method of feeding will also go through frequent shifts and transitions.
What should you know about feeding your newborn infant in year 1?
If this is your first time caring for a newborn baby, it can be even more overwhelming to know where to begin. To provide you with some guidance, this blog post will focus on the general nutrition needs for infants aged between 0 and 1 year old.
- Choose a feeding method. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, exclusive breastfeeding is the recommended method of feeding for the first 6 months. However, do your research and decide what is best for you, your lifestyle, your family, etc. before choosing whether you will breastfeed or bottle feed your infant. This is not always the easiest decision and is also something worth taking the time to investigate before finalizing. See our latest post on The Ins and Outs of Nutrition & Breastfeeding.
- If you opt for formula feeding, it is recommended to select an iron-fortified formula. Babies’ iron stores can vary based on maternal stores during pregnancy. And either way, after the first 4 months your baby’s iron levels will likely decline as a normal part of the growing process.
- Supplementation. Infants in the first year of life may need supplemented vitamins and minerals, depending on their situation and what method they are fed. Speak with your pediatrician about any supplement needs for your baby. It is common for babies to need vitamin D and iron supplementation during this time.
- Introducing solid food. Anywhere from around 4-6 months your baby will start showing signs of ability to eat solid foods, and by 6 months for sure you will begin introducing complementary foods to your infant as you slowly wean them off breast or bottle feeding. You may try foods such as plain and strained, or pureed, baby food, vegetables like soft carrots or broccoli and cooked sweet potatoes, and over time start adding in fruit such as mashed apple or avocado.
- Foods to avoid. As your infant is still young and developing there are foods that may be difficult for them to eat such as stringy, sticky, or hard foods – including candy, marshmallows, hot dogs, nuts or popcorn. Also avoid slippery foods that are choking hazards such as uncut grapes. And for food safety purposes, it is advised that you not feed your baby honey or raw/partially cooked eggs and meat. Additionally, parents should consider a diet low in sodium, saturated fat, and ultra-processed food for their infant.
- On a separate note, you may learn at this stage that your child has certain food allergies or intolerances, please speak with your pediatrician about this. And lookout for an upcoming post about managing food allergies in the home!
- Cow’s milk. Lastly, it’s recommended to avoid serving cow’s milk to your infant in the first year. However, dairy products are OK. Cow’s milk lacks several essential nutrients required for infant growth and can burden the baby’s digestive system. Additionally, cow’s milk is a poor source of iron and can lead to anemia.
And that’s just the summary!
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or worry about whether your baby is eating enough. You can assess your baby’s nutritional status by monitoring their growth and development, by keeping up with their scheduled pediatrician appointments as well as working with a Dietitian during this time. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.